Why routine HVAC maintenance is essential?
Darko Macura, chief executive officer, Al-Futtaim Engineering & Technologies, talks about the advantages of routine HVAC maintenance
The maintenance of HVAC systems is as important as that of automobiles. If not routinely attended to, mechanical systems can breakdown. Darko Macura, chief executive officer, Al-Futtaim Engineering & Technologies, explains the importance of HVAC maintenance. He says: “Air conditioning means production and maintenance of a comfortable climate inside the conditioned space. Therefore, to have the desired comfort it is important to maintain some critical features of the environment as per the standard comfort index of ASHRAE such as standard air quality (clean air), comfort air temperature, comfort humidity, standard and comfort noise level, and comfort airflow and speed.”
All the above features are only attained via a well-maintained AC unit. Hence, it is important to carry out regular and periodic AC maintenance to achieve the above standards for comfort air-conditioning, Macura says.
Despite the importance of maintenance, Macura feels that AC maintenance is often ignored because of the unawareness of consequences that are directly related to user’s or owner’s health and wealth.
Elaborating, he says: “When it comes to health, people, in general, are not aware of sick building syndrome – a phenomenon that is directly related to poor indoor air quality and its negative health impacts on the users of the building. This syndrome most of the time is directly related to the AC systems and its operation and maintenance. One of the causes of this syndrome is poor fresh air supply and dirty air filters, along with other factors. Stale air can get contaminated faster and can make users sick quite often.
“When it comes to wealth, poorly maintained AC unit can stress its vital components making them more vulnerable thereby reducing the life of the machines and increasing the power consumption and adding negativity to environment sustainability. A well-maintained AC unit has a larger life span than less maintained units.”
Talking about the servicing frequency of AC units, Macura says that it depends on several factors such as the usage/criticality and area of installation of the AC units and OEM recommendations.
He says: “An AC unit fitted in an industrial environment may need more service frequencies than an AC unit fitted in residential or commercial offices. 90% of the AC owners and users are not aware of the consequences associated with its maintenance philosophy. Our market is price-driven and seldom quality-driven. The client or client’s representatives are not giving attention to the environmental sustainability that revolves around HVAC maintenance, i.e., healthy AC units or chillers are more energy-efficient than un-healthy ones. An AC system is the most ignored commodity due to its concealed nature and invisible consequences.
Macura explains that there are three major steps an HVAC technician does during his/her visits: Planned Preventive Maintenance (PPM), Corrective Maintenance (break down attendance) and Predictive Maintenance.
For PPM, the three major activities involve, and are not limited to: cleaning of all the air filters, cleaning of the indoor and outdoor heat exchanger coils, and cleaning of the condensate drain lines.
He says: “At Al-Futtaim Engineering (AFE), our inspection covers a comprehensive check-list of maintenance, testing and analysis tasks. For instance, most HVAC contractors don’t include the static pressure test, which we provide, as the results can help extend the life of your equipment.”
The Al-Futtaim advantage
Al-Futtaim has been selling some of the best brands of AC units such as Sanyo, Toshiba, Panasonic, and York, especially for the residential and commercial sectors.
Talking about the advantage Al-Futtaim Engineering has over others, Macura says that its ESD division was established in the early 1980s and since then it has been handling the after-sales and AMC contracts of the abovementioned reputed brands.
The firm’s capability of HVAC maintenance has grown exponentially over the years and now the company has a full-fledged FM division with experts who can maintain from small AC units to a large AC district cooling plants of almost all brands of the HVAC industry.
He says: “One of AFE’s unique features is an inhouse EML workshop. This workshop is the backbone of our AC maintenance department as it can rewind small ½ HP motor to 100HP motor in its workshop. This workshop also repairs and rebuilds various chiller compressors and pumps with minimum downtime.
“Our skilled and experienced HVAC professionals – from technicians to supervisors and engineers to managers have hands-on experience in delivering HVAC maintenance contracts for all kinds and types of AC units. Our maintenance division is equipped with advanced mobile vehicles that are used as mini-stores and workshops and are very useful in delivering maintenance assistance to all our clients anytime.”
The firm has also developed a 24x7 central store in the middle of the city that takes care of all inventories required to manage HVAC contracts.
In addition, AFE is equipped with a call centre that supports customers 24x7. The Contact Centre’s primary role is to create a valuable and memorable customer experience by implementing the right technology and developing the right team, in parallel to understanding our customer’s wants and needs, by being proactive, passionate, transparent and a good listener.
Macura concludes: “Finally, the biggest edge we have is the care towards assets that we have developed through maintaining our own over the last 25+ years, and this is now inbuilt in the way we work.”